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Asia Pacific stocks mixed, China Keeps lending Rates Unchanged

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed in Wednesday morning trade as China’s benchmark lending rate was left unchanged.

Mainland Chinese stocks edged lower in early trade, with both the Shanghai composite and Shenzhen component down around 0.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.34%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.74% while the Topix index gained 0.4%. South Korea’s Kospi was 0.25% higher, while over in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.29%.Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.09% higher.

The moves came as China’s 1-year loan prime rate (LPR) was left unchanged at 3.85%, while the 5-year LPR stood pat at 4.65%. That was largely in line with expectations from a Reuters survey of traders and analysts, where a majority forecasted no changes in either rate at the monthly fixing on Wednesday.

Investors also watched for market reaction to a STAT News report released overnight that raised concerns about the trial results for a potential coronavirus vaccine from Moderna. That initial positive development had sent markets rallying earlier in the week.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 390.51 points, or 1.6%, to close at 24,206.86. The S&P 500 ended its trading day 1.1% lower at 2,922.91 while the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.5% and closed at 9,185.10. The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 99.438 following its decline from levels above 100 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.81 per dollar after weakening from levels below 107.5 yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.6559 after seeing highs above $0.655 yesterday.

Oil prices were little changed in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.17% to $34.71 per barrel. U.S. crude futures dipped slightly to $31.94 per barrel.